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One Size Does Not Fit All - Learning Strategies

Are you a parent of more than one child? If so, you have probably noticed each of your children responds and reacts differently to your questions and directions at home. One child might perform chores better by having a To Do list set before them each day, while another child responds best to verbal instructions. That’s because each child comes equipped with a specific learning style. Check out the three main learning styles to learn how you can help your children approach their homework most effectively.

Types of Learning Modes
Research has long determined that children fall into one of three distinct types of learning styles: by sight, sound, or through touch. If you are not sure what type of learning style best suits your child, begin by paying attention to how your child reacts through playing. Is he or she unusually active and constantly examining things with his/her hands? If so, this type of child learns best by using his body to explore and learn about his surroundings. Other children learn most effectively by visualizing concepts. They enjoy learning through pictures, reading written assignments, and seeing math problems written out on a board. Children who learn best by listening are comfortable with the traditional teaching approach of lecturing and giving instructions orally.

Use Your Child’s Learning Style to Help with Homework
So now that you have identified how your children learn best, you can begin to tailor their homework to suit their learning strengths. For a child who learns through physical touch, when helping him/her with math problems, try using small objects, such as raisins or coins, to help him/her count. When assisting with reading assignments, invite your child to act out parts of the novel or plot. When reading to your child, use your index finger to track the words as you read. This helps your child’s eyes to focus as you read.

If your child is a visual learner, use flash cards to study spelling words. When reading to your child, pause to look at the illustrations, and build his/her knowledge based on a brief discussion of each picture. For history, making a visual timeline of important dates, and posting them to the wall will help your child “see” history and how it unfolds.

For the child who learns by hearing, help your child with homework by reading the homework assignment sheet to him/her each day after school. To help her with language and spelling assignments, say each word, and repeat each one aloud. Ask your child to spell the word back to you.  For history or science, make up rhyming words to help your child memorize important dates and facts.
Once you recognize what your child’s learning style is, you can then begin to help broaden his/her comprehension and, ultimately, the grades on his/her report card.

Smart Phones, Tablets, and Our Children

We all love our handheld electronic devices. For most of us, our smart phone is the one thing we make sure we never leave our house without. In fact, some of us reading this article may well be doing so from the comfort of our living room couch while scrolling through a tablet PC. So with our increased fixation and attachment to all these wonderful new gadgets, we must determine as parents the best time to introduce these technologies to our children.

Even though we may have already been convinced that our two-year-old can manage an iPad better than we can, that doesn’t mean we should to be sitting him or her down in front of one. Prior to pre-school or kindergarten, experts say we need to encourage our kids to use their senses to experience the world through direct interaction. While we may constantly be moving toward a more connected, electronic world, we must make sure we’re still nurturing real life fundamental skills at this stage in our children’s development.

Once school begins, we can feel safer about slowly integrating these handheld technologies, and our children can even stand to benefit from this interaction, so long as we make sure the content viewed is educational in nature. Adult supervision is crucial at this point; we want to be monitoring what programs our kids are using and better yet, become actively involved in their learning experience through ‘co-viewing’. By doing this, we can help aid in their comprehension skills and increase the overall productivity of their interaction.

As with other recreational electronics such as television and computers, we want to be cautious to limit the overall amount of time our children are spending with them. We need to make sure we’re doing our part to temper their usage to no more than about an hour total for the day, while working to balance that time with physical play.  We should also set a good example ourselves by shutting off the electronics from time to time to engage in real world activities with our kids. No matter how flashy and advanced technology becomes, there’s never going to be a legit substitute for sitting down to read with our children or spending some quality time with them playing outside.

We may come from a generation that still wants to fight it, but smart phones and tablets are here to stay; and while there’s no reason to remove them from our children’s emotional and physical development, there’s also no way they can substitute for tangible, real world experiences. So, as long as we stay mindful about their level of exposure to tablets and smart phones, we can let our kids use them to complement a well-rounded upbringing.

For additional reading and research on this topic, check out the following articles and websites: